Born: November 18, 1954.

Died: August 29, 2019.

The 10th Duke of Roxburghe, who has died aged 64, was the inheritor of an ancient Scottish title and the beautiful Floors Castle in Kelso.

The castle, on the banks of the Tweed, commands magnificent views of the Cheviots and has many art treasures on its walls. The Duke did much to improve the castle’s accessibility and his refurbishment of its rooms maintained the atmosphere of a spacious family house. When he opened Floors to the public in 1977 he realised that it might be an intrusion on family life, but both the art treasures and the fine gardens have proved a major tourist attraction. “We have to accept the intrusion,” he once said, “otherwise living in this house wouldn’t be an economic possibility,”

Roxburghe was staunchly loyal to Floors and the Borders, and a hands-on administrator of castle and its 60,000 acres. “I feel Scottish, English and a Borderer,” he declared. “I am a Unionist because I see the bigger picture, but I am proudly Scottish.”

The family have witnessed much of Scotland’s history. The Ker and Innes families were assimilated in the 14th century. An Innes had been granted a barony by King Malcolm IV in 1160. Robert Ker accompanied King James V1 to London in 1603 and was later created the 1st Earl of Roxburghe, the last in the Scottish peerage before the Acts of Union and a reward for the Earl’s role in negotiating the Union. The Dukedom itself was created in 1707.

The elderly fifth duke married a young wife and had an heir at the age of 80. The eighth Duke married an American heiress, which helped to restore much splendour to Floors, but his son, the 10th Duke’s father, was caught up in a national scandal when Mary, his estranged first wife, barricaded herself in her room at Floors. The Duke tried to starve her into submission but the good folk of Kelso sent up food to her on a pulley. Their near neighbour, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, reminded the duke that there was no insurance, and an understanding was reached.

Guy David Innes-Ker was the elder of two sons of the ninth Duke of Roxburghe, known as Bobo, and his second wife, Elisabeth (née McConnel). He was educated at Eton, where he was captain of cricket, and studied land economy at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He went to Sandhurst, where he was awarded the Sword of Honour, and served in Ulster with the Blues and Royals. While serving in Cyprus in 1973 he inherited the title from his father.

In 1977 he married Lady Jane Grosvenor, younger daughter of the fifth Duke of Westminster, a marriage of two ancient families and a major society occasion. They were friendly with Prince Andrew, who was godfather to their second son, Lord Edward Innes-Ker. It was in a guest bedroom at Floors Castle in 1986 that the Prince proposed to Sarah Ferguson. Guy Roxburghe’s marriage was dissolved in 1990 and in 1992 he married Virginia “Virge” Wynn-Williams, an interior designer.

On inheriting Floors Roxburghe realised it needed severe modernisation. He was keen to ensure that the alterations were stylish and in keeping with the magnificence of the castle. He avoided gimmicks and concentrated on preserving its style and history in a professional manner. He put the estate on a more commercial basis, improved the salmon fishing on the Tweed, the game and clay-pigeon shooting, and made the whole atmosphere of Floors a welcoming one. Under the guidance of ‘Virgie’ he adapted part of the castle for residential purposes and in 1997 created the Roxburghe Hotel, which has since become an international attraction.

The Roxburghe Championship Golf Course was designed that year by former Ryder Cup golfer Dave Thomas and for five years it hosted the Scottish Seniors Open. The hotel and course were sold to a German developer in 2018.

Roxburghe was a firm believer in turbine energy and in 2012, after a long planning battle with other landowners, developed a substantial wind farm around the Lammermuir Hills. A major passion was horses, both breeding and racing. His greatest turf success was in 2004 when Attraction, which he owned, was the first racehorse to win the 1,000 Guineas and the Irish 1,000 Guineas. He was a director of Kelso racecourse and a Steward of the Jockey Club. He loved the outdoors and the moors of the Borders. He did much to enhance the community in and around Kelso and after his cancer diagnosis in 2009 he undertook, with Sotheby’s chairman Henry Wyndham, a 190-mile walk that raised £1.3 million for cancer research. He also enjoyed cricket, golf and skiing. “I love Kelso,” he declared, “and I hope the people of Kelso like the castle and the Roxburghe family. I am a member of clubs in London, but I don’t go to them. And I very rarely go to Edinburgh.”

He is survived by a daughter and two sons of his first marriage along with his second wife and their son and daughter. The dukedom now passes to Charles, Marquess of Bowmont.

Alasdair Steven